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my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing
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Bas Nijenhuis
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PostPosted: 2011-05-17, 11:48    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

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Inspired by Horst I've made this diagram!!!



One entry is particular different and I think the debate is about that one vs the others.
Becomming a master player of traditional Shakuhachi without any teachter contact, that is imo not possible.
The rest is and I think 98% of the players is that 'rest' including myself.

Bas
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david
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PostPosted: 2011-05-17, 12:08    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

I started this whole mess, but I like where it has gone. I think everyone has a good idea that this is a place for learning and sharing.

GoStrangely's post (also here under the playpen) on trying to achieve a good 'kan' couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I remember that post helping me out so much.
http://www.shakuhachiforum.eu/t217-Kan-Register-end-of-my-rope.htm

It is true that beginners without teachers do not have a clue. They come to the forum asking for that clue.

As far as mastering the traditional music of the shakuhachi, I would argue that a beginner can do that also without a teacher. All they need to do is learn one honkyoku with the help of this forum, books, etc.. That is what I am doing. I have been playing for so long now and still haven't even finished playing choshi or kyorei. But I will on my own terms. I don't want to learn all the honkyoku. There are the stories of the komuso who only played choshi. Then there is the following quote from Kogan Murata; “There are perhaps forty ‘classic’ tunes. I’ve chosen about seven. I can play them over and over. I can spend the whole day doing that.” I absolutely love this quote coming from someone who was taught by Koku Nishimura and has chosen to learn only a few konkyoku..I am not going to not call him a master. Here is the link to the page;
http://myoanshakuhachi.blogspot.com/2010/05/kogan-murata-ancient-echoes.html

I really strongly believe that if someone can master one song..they are a master of the shakuhachi
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Jarle Jivanmukta
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PostPosted: 2011-05-17, 16:37    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Brian Tairaku Ritchie wrote:
Not everybody has to be Lance Armstrong or Iyengar to get something out of it. Just blowing is enough sometimes.


So its clear that there different views, and (at least some of) those who study without teacher are glad if they can ask questions here without being told repeatedly to get a teacher......

Brian brought in the reference of yoga, which for me is worthwhile to consider. There are actually some examples of people becoming masters, and revivers of the tradition without traditional training from a teacher. The tradition of Yoga has always stressed the importance of a teacher to find the goal. However, last centurys (debatable?) biggest Yoga masters had almost no teaching from their teachers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Sivananda had just a few hours of meeting with his teacher.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._K._S._Iyengar also had very little teaching.

Their stories are quite fascinating....BKS Iyengar practiced without guidance for upto 10 hrs daily to discover what was only hinted at in old scriptures like Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.....

Funny enough they both stressed/stresses that one must always follow tradition.

Thanks to xenmeister http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jester for subtly showing me a very important perspective.
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Jon Palombi
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PostPosted: 2011-05-18, 01:59    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Jarle Jivanmukta wrote:
So its clear that there different views, and (at least some of) those who study without teacher are glad if they can ask questions here without being told repeatedly to get a teacher......

Brian brought in the reference of yoga, which for me is worthwhile to consider. There are actually some examples of people becoming masters, and revivers of the tradition without traditional training from a teacher. The tradition of Yoga has always stressed the importance of a teacher to find the goal. However, last centurys (debatable?) biggest Yoga masters had almost no teaching from their teachers.

Their stories are quite fascinating....BKS Iyengar practiced without guidance for upto 10 hrs daily to discover what was only hinted at in old scriptures like Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.....

Funny enough they both stressed/stresses that one must always follow tradition.



I hope you don't feel that I am unnecessarily trying to contradict you, my friend, but this is not exactly the whole truth (regarding these two famous yogis). In both cases, they were extra-ordinary individuals who could take small amounts of instruction and make giant steps with the information they had received. As you stated, both men studied the ancient Hindu scriptures and found their own ways of culling the key aspects and subtle truths. So it is clear that they had guiding stars to follow and proven methodologies which they had learned and adapted to their own personal approach and style of teaching.

Sri Swami Sivananda is my Param Guru, as Sri Swami Satchidananda is my Gurudeva. May they both rest in eternal peace. Your reference about yoga may be unclear to many of the fellow members, here at this forum? The yoga that Swami Sivananda received in a matter of just a few hours, was not Hatha yoga (the external physical asanas), rather, it was the transmission of esoteric meditation techniques. I'm not suggesting that Sri Sivananda didn't practice Hatha yoga. He certainly did but his initiation with his Guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, was something altogether different. These techniques are common is several lineages of Indian spiritual teaching and also within the Sufis of Persia. These secretive yogic techniques are quite similar to Kriya yoga and Surat Shabd yoga. I digress? Sorry guys, it's just that I believe that everyone loves a free spirit, so to speak, and it's easy to romanticize their accomplishments.

The same can be said of the most famous Japanese swordsman of them all, Miyamoto Musashi. He is said to have been completely unschooled and developed his own unique style of swordsmanship. This is, however, an extreme exaggeration, as history shows upon further examination. His father was a seasoned warrior and a proponent of the yari (spear). He certainly showed his gifted son the ropes with the katana. Like Sivananda had, the young Shinmen Takezo traveled his country, Japan, in search of perfecting his swordsmanship. Musashi likely studied briefly with many teachers along the way. He was, however, without a specific lineage. This is also true of Iyengar, so I can see what you mean. That being said, both great teachers did emphasize the traditional path, as such specific knowledge cannot just be done any way one fancies. After all, you cannot make up your own asanas and expect that they will be the same as those passed down for more than 2500 years. The same can be said for language, the martial arts and most certainly, for bamboo flute music.

So, I can see how they might state that one needs a teacher for receiving such specific yogic methodologies. Remember, Sivananda was an extraordinary individual and he was able to absorb many teachings during his training, without staying too long with any other masters. Time is one of the most illusory of concepts and it is too much of a simplification to suggest that he was unschooled in yoga. You know, whereby Shakti Pad (the juice) is ignited by the Master within the student, which is so vital in the lineage of guru-to-disciple. My teacher, Swami Satchidananda, was quite an advanced Hatha yogi and I have always felt that this has been a great boost in my flute playing, especially the pranayama (controlled breathing).

You are very correct about one important fact, Sivananda received his brief transmission and then went off to practice on his own for years. During his solitary training, he realized union with the Divine and the rest is history. He did spend considerable time traveling the subcontinent of India, meeting many Indian gurus and studying with them for short spans of time. He spend time with both, Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramana Maharshi. So while his technical instruction was brief, he did actually return to the well for inspiration and guidance on many occasions. Sri Ramana Maharshi was probably the only true sage that I know of since the incarnation of Siddhartha Gautama (the historical Buddha), who had no guru or lineage and no formal training in yoga, whatsoever. This does not suggest that Sri Ramana Maharshi was unschooled, though. He was self-taught to a large degree and spoke three languages and read Sanskrit.

I know less about K. S. Iyengar but his book, Light on Yoga has been an inspiration to me, since I bought it in 1979. While he may not have had the classic Guru-chela relationship, he was hardly unschooled. His brother-in-law, Krishnamacharya, taught him the basics of Hatha yoga for nearly four years (which aided him in curing many of his childhood maladies), before Iyengar went off on his own to study, explore and become the world's foremost authority on Hatha yoga. You are most correct about his having reached such a level without having a specific Guru or following a lineage in the traditional manner.

I do agree with you that traditional training is not always necessary to succeed in playing the shakuhachi but what are we actually playing? Must it necessarily be traditional Japanese shakuhachi music? I think not... but it all depends on what we desire in our own hearts. I certainly don't play classical European chamber music on my silver Gemeinhardt and Yamaha concert flutes. I play blues, rock, jazz and New Age music. So am I hypocritical by wanting to learn something of the traditional Japanese way?

I found myself in the very same situation with the Indian bansuri bamboo flute. Until I had spent some time studying and contemplating classical Indian music, I was just playing Jethro Tull and Rahsaan Roland Kirk on the bansuri. This is totally cool, in and of itself, but when I saw G.S. Sachdev in concert... I realized in a flash that I didn't have a clue about the Indian bansuri! In 1980 I sat just six feet in front of him and his virtuosity was so inspiring, I was never the same again!

It's likely to be the same with the shakuhachi? I would probably find myself leaning towards jazz or New age music, without a traditional Japanese schooling. This is also fine, unless one wishes to learn traditional Japanese shakuhachi music. The shakuhachi itself, will be the real teacher in the end. From my vantage point, instruction would be a pearl to have and hold but I will not let it halt my explorations, until I cross paths with my first shakuhachi teacher.
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Last edited by Jon Palombi on 2011-05-18, 17:53; edited 1 time in total
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Yu-Jin
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PostPosted: 2011-05-18, 08:21    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Kage wrote:
Why waste time sorting through all the wrong ways, especially when you're not even sure whether they are wrong or not.

Interesting question... Why would anybody bother to ask WHY I am doing what I am doing as long as nobody suffers from it, and I am enjoying it? Rolling Eyes
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2011-05-18, 09:00    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

I like your research, Bas... Okay
What about doing music research on this topic instead of psychology? Mr. Green
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kerry
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PostPosted: 2011-05-18, 14:51    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

david wrote:


I really strongly believe that if someone can master one song..they are a master of the shakuhachi

You have a very worthy goal to follow Smile
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Bas Nijenhuis
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PostPosted: 2011-05-18, 16:51    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Yu-Jin wrote:
Kage wrote:
Why waste time sorting through all the wrong ways, especially when you're not even sure whether they are wrong or not.

Interesting question... Why would anybody bother to ask WHY I am doing what I am doing as long as nobody suffers from it, and I am enjoying it? Rolling Eyes


If people would stop being bothered (too much) about what others say or write, we could just start playing the flute.

And thanks Kiku, I will consider it (perhaps Wink ).

It is also important (or is it?) what is defined by 'to master' in the case of the shakuhachi (and with every other aspect in life). Best thing -after playing the flute with beer und wurst- is doing what you like and not to worry about that.
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Christian Grobmeier
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 07:04    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

HORST XENMEISTER wrote:
Grüß Gott!

GalinaSG wrote:

Who decides about other people's way?


Zen Koan: Best way is wurst way.

Vary imprortant to have teacher.

Shakuhahci ohne Teacher is like wurst ohne senf. But teacher don't need be human. Can be untermensch oder sausage.

Teach self gut.

Learn bookDVD beter.

Skipe more beter.

Study living Japanische teacher best way.

Super BEST WAY: go in wald mit wurst, brot, senf, bier und blow bambus mit pure hart.



Thanks heaven Horst, you have made it to this forum. :-)

The wurst way sounds not to bad!
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Christian Grobmeier
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 07:24    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

In this whole long discussion one thing comes to my mind.

Did the defenders of the "no teacher" direction ever learn with a master for lets say 3 months?

I have started with learning Shakuhachi myself. I thought I could find anything in the net. Then I realized my learning is shale. So I went to my Sensei. He showed me things I never have read in the internet or at the forum. Most of the important stuff in a piece comes from mind not from notation. Some of the pieces are not even listed in the Komuso.com piece listing. And of course all the traditional things I now know from one who actually was in Itchoken.

So I have tried both options and found out, for me, for what I want to do, a teacher is non-optional. If I wanted to play popular music (or folksongs) I could have managed it myself.

This is my personal truth. You might have experienced another truth (like going into the Wald with a Wurst Okay ) but for me, this is not theory.

Before discussion teacher/non-teacher I think every participant needs to know how things are in both worlds. How can one, who ever had a teacher know how it is without a teacher? How can one, who never had a teacher, say it can be done?

I suggest to try out a teacher, if you have the chance, and then decide again if a teacher is not necessary. There are a few outstanding individiuals who have become true masters without a teacher. The ESS summerschool is always a good option to try things out. Even Skype is an option for some people - here in the forum are several great teachers who give Skype lessions.

And on a sidenote, you are not a "bad" player if you don't have a teacher. In my world, there are no bad players. I am only referring to traditional shakuhachi music which has been taught from mouth to mouth for centuries. About the rest I cannot tell anything, because I don't have a clue.

Hope I did not step on anybodies tooth!

Cheers all,
Christian
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 09:25    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

I had a teacher and now I don't have one. I wish I had one. Embarassed Does that count?
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Christian Grobmeier
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 09:28    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Sure - you have experienced both sides and can speak from experience. Thats exactly what I meant
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 09:44    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

There are people in Australia I could learn from but I would not see them often enough. The best thing is to live near a teacher and take lessons every week.

Another thing I've noticed from teaching myself is that even with my advanced training, now that I'm on my own I am doing unorthodox things. That's my responsibility and I'm doing it by choice but it's not the same as imitating the teacher.

I might have to go to Japan...............time is an issue.
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Lance
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PostPosted: 2011-06-11, 04:57    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

This topic always invokes opinions, sometimes heated. I was jaded long ago when I asked a girl I knew to 'play something' on the piano, she'd taken lessons for years. She started paging through sheet music, and could only play a song from there or some song she'd memorized. That made me cringe, seeing that all she was was a human player piano, yuk. This could start the "you have to know what you're doing before you can improvise" discussion, but I hope not. That piano story from long ago turned me against teachers and learning 'songs'. I certainly don't want to become some robot, even one who adds his own flare here and there. I've been playing Shakuhachi for a few years and totally enjoy the freedom of learning what I can 'from it'. I'll also agree ahead of time with those who say I'm lazy, I don't like the idea of the drugery of playing some songs over and over and over, trying to get them 'right'. Anyway, to me the Shakuhachi has been a wonderful experience, and I can enjoy sitting and learning from the bamboo.
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Jeff Cairns
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PostPosted: 2011-06-11, 08:21    Post subject: my 2 cents about the whole teacher thing Reply with quote

Lance, in defense of those who play music from the page, I would like to suggest that when they do that, they are in an unspoken dialogue with themselves and and with any others they might be playing with including the composer of the piece. From the point of view of Japanese traditional music, over the 25 year period I've been playing it from the page, I can say that my relationship to a piece is always evolving as I come to understand more about it and am able to integrate it with my evolving sensitivity and capability. Sometimes when I embark on a piece (moreso in the past than now) I mechanically play the notes, because the depth of the piece is far from my immediate grasp. Repeated playing/listening opens doors and I become able to ride the energy of the phrasing with more certainty and understanding. This action takes every bit of mind and heart to accomplish. Now, I make decisions about the way I want to play a piece based on what I 'feel'. But this 'feel' is educated and only came about by playing the music. I would say that this is far from being robotic. Of course intention is everything in this game. The person who took 15 years of piano lessons might not be able to improvise, but I guess they would also say that they might feel comfortable at the piano. And that comes from an intimacy with the instrument and what it does. That sense of intimacy is personal and not imposed and as such is self expression. It becomes part of what one is. It seems quite unfair to belittle that by calling these people robotic and implying that there is nothing human in their act.
It's obvious that you get a great deal of meaning and enjoyment from the immediacy of self expression that improvisation gives. Perhaps you feel connected and possibly fearless in it. What more could one ask for? But intention is everything. Without an active and engaged mind and heart, both improvisation and rote playing can be automatic, but engage and everything changes.
Carry on.
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